Memories Bloom on Dad Hill
Lockhart was 63 years old when he died of brain cancer on March 5,
2007. Being a lover of the north, he was buried at the cottage on "Dad
Hill" among a sea of colourful Forget-Me-Nots. It was a place where he
would go to relax, take in nature and spend time with the family.
"We have a lot of fond memories of that hill," said Sonya, who was
married to David for 22 years. "It got the name Dad Hill because we
often reminisced about our two fathers there. Each spring, we spread
additional Forget-Me-Nots on the hill to commemorate their lives. This
year will hold special meaning because we'll also be remembering David."
David was initially diagnosed with melanoma (skin cancer) in 2003.
Three years later, after experiencing a seizure, it was discovered that
the cancer had spread to his brain.
The family was referred to The Dorothy Ley Hospice through the
Community Care Access Centre. David's sister, Wendy Duncan, who has
worked at Durham Hospice for over 10 years, also encouraged the family
to make use of DLH's services.
Sonya thought David and their twin sons would benefit from talking to
someone about death and dying. Spiritual Care Coordinator, Nick Ruiter
visited David and his family at their home. During the discussion,
David made it very clear that he saw his terminal illness as "a process"
- one that he had come to terms with.
"Throughout David's care, the Hospice was very supportive but not
intrusive," said Sonya. "Nick was especially able to connect with our
19 year old twin sons Michael and Andrew."
When David died, the family asked for Nick's help with planning the
service. They settled on a non-denominational Celebration of Life
ceremony that met the beliefs of the family members and their many
friends. Andrew took the lead with Nick and worked with Michael, Sonya,
and Wendy. "We had accepted the fact of David's illness and death, and
felt that this was an opportunity for us to do another loving thing for
David," Sonya explained. "We wanted our friends and family to celebrate
the man himself through anecdotes and understanding some of the things
he held dear. Nick guided the family in developing a true Celebration
Andrew's keen interest in the environment prompted the family to
select a biodegradable urn that could be planted in the soil. The
family agreed that there was no better place for David to be laid to
rest than at the cottage among the blooms on Dad Hill.
One of the first family memories of the hill was made one beautiful
summer day. Atop the hill there was an old well. The family decided to
cover the top of the rotting well with cement. Wanting to mark the
occasion, each person left their individual marks in the cement. This
particularly appealed to Michael and Andrew, identical twins who were
three years old at the time."You can still see our initials in the
cement and the boys' little footprints," Sonya recalled fondly. "David
and I talked of that day often and it was one of our happiest memories."
Many family members and friends attended the non-denominational
ceremony to celebrate David's life. During her closing remarks, Sonya
reassured the congregation that David would be returning to one of his
favourite places - the cottage. Family and friends were encouraged to
take a package of Forget-Me-Not seeds and plant them where the blooms
would remind them of a loved-one.
"Knowing that David would be returning to the cottage provided
closure for a lot people, and the blooms of Forget-Me-Nots symbolize
renewal each spring," Sonya explained.
Sonya, a human resources manager and trainer, recently became a
volunteer at the Hospice using her Human Resources skills in some people
development projects. As for the boys, Michael is currently pursuing
an honours BA in political science at Wilfrid Laurier University and
will follow Mom in an HR career, while Andrew is at Trent University in
his third year of an honours BA in environmental studies, planning to go
on to a Masters degree (but Mom hopes he will be a doctor).